Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel responds to a question in Ottawa on June 11, 2013. Ms. Rempel is expected to be appointed to cabinet on July 15, 2013. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Conservative MP Michelle Rempel responds to a question in Ottawa on June 11, 2013. Ms. Rempel is expected to be appointed to cabinet on July 15, 2013. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Promotion to prime minister’s inner circle comes with financial perks Add to ...

A promotion into the prime minister’s inner circle instantly ups a member of Parliament’s political cachet.

But becoming a cabinet minister or parliamentary secretary also brings with it financial perks and some strict new rules.

In addition to their base MP salary of roughly $160,000 a year, cabinet ministers earn an additional $76,700 while parliamentary secretaries get a $57,500 bump.

More Related to this Story

Cabinet ministers also get a $2,000 car allowance and the position includes a car and a driver.

It added up to roughly $9-million a year in salaries and perks for the cabinet Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed in 2011, his last major shuffle.

And that was before the thousands of dollars cabinet ministers charge taxpayers in other expenses, with some ministers submitting heftier bills than others due to their portfolios.

For example, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s bill for hospitality and travel for January to the end of May this year was $83,492.09.

On the other hand, Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose only submitted for about $5,400 worth of expenses.

But with the bigger expense accounts comes an added level of scrutiny.

Former international affairs minister Bev Oda resigned last year after The Canadian Press revealed her travel expenses included bills for a $16 glass of orange juice and $3,000 for a car and driver to take her less than two kilometres.

She was later forced to pay the money back.

The Conservatives were also prompted to change the rules around transportation after reports that ministerial drivers were billing more than $600,000 a year in overtime.

The difference between what cabinet ministers make and spend and what’s available to backbenchers has been a source of tension.

Former Tory MP Brent Rathgeber, who is now sitting as an independent, began his slow march to independent status with a blog post last summer on the subject.

His thoughts came after a visit to the town of Grenfell, Sask.

“In Grenfell, most of the attendees have never ridden in a limo and none of them have ever drunk $16 orange juice,” he wrote at the time.

“Surely, they would appreciate if government took more care in spending their money.”

In addition to facing greater scrutiny of their bills, cabinet ministers must follow stricter conflict-of-interest rules, which also extend after they leave office.

For example, while both MPs and ministers must disclose their assets, liabilities, sources of income and activities outside of Parliament, ministers must complete the process within four months, while there’s no deadline for MPs.

And once in office, they need to be more careful about walking the line between being an MP and cabinet minister.

While MPs of all political stripes lobby on behalf of their constituents, at the upper echelons of power such efforts can be more contentious.

John Duncan stepped aside as aboriginal affairs minister after it was revealed he contacted a tax court judge on behalf of someone in his riding.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty also had his knuckles rapped over contacting the CRTC about a radio station’s bid for a new license.

“While ministers are not precluded from representing their constituents in their capacity as members of Parliament, they are prohibited, under section 9 of the Act, from using their positions as public office holders to seek to influence decision-making so as to improperly further the private interests of another person,” the federal ethics commissioner said at the time.

In the know

Most popular videos »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most popular